First Advisor

Kenneth M. Ames

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology






Petroglyphs -- South Central Idaho, Prehistoric Art -- South Central Idaho, Indian art -- South Central Idaho, Indians of North America -- South Central Idaho -- Antiquities



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 219 p.)


This study examines rock art sites containing scratched petroglyphs in the Bennett Hills, Idaho. Despite their research potential, scratched petroglyphs have received little attention in rock art research or literature. This study contributes valuable data to scratched rock art research and the corpus of rock art research in general. Two samples of ten scratched petroglyph sites were examined and recorded for a total of twenty petroglyph sites. Using formal and contextual research methods, multiple attributes of scratched petroglyphs are identified and analyzed. The formal qualities of scratched petroglyphs are examined to define the extent and to characterize the motif assemblage. Formal qualities were also studied to test hypotheses concerning the relationship between scratched and pecked petroglyph styles and associations between scratched petroglyphs and other archaeological phenomena. The contexts of scratched petroglyphs are studied on site and landscape scales to identify correlations with other archaeological phenomena and environments. The formal analyses revealed that there are more scratched petroglyphs in the Bennett Hills than records and literature currently indicate. Few site records document the presence of scratched petroglyphs, although as a result of this analysis it appears to be ubiquitous in the Bennett Hills. It is possible that scratched petroglyphs are under recorded in other locales as well, and that further investigations may identify a greater frequency of scratched petroglyphs throughout the Great Basin. Proper identification of scratched petroglyphs may alter how these properties are evaluated and in turn how they are managed. The Bennett Hills encompass a limited and unique assemblage of scratched petroglyph motifs that are dissimilar to petroglyphs manufactured using other techniques. This is significant in that it helps support the idea that scratched petroglyphs are distinct. Rather than just an alternative method to pecking, scratched petroglyphs serve a unique function that is different from and independent of pecked petroglyphs. Contextual analyses indicated that scratched petroglyphs are located in patterned and significant associations with artifacts, features, environments, and landscapes. The contextual analysis suggested that scratched rock art was produced in a public context in close proximity to subsistence related activities, perhaps in association with resource gathering events. There are various hypotheses that deal with the interaction between scratched and pecked petroglyph styles. Scratched petroglyphs occur both independent of and in association with other pecked petroglyph styles, although scratched petroglyphs do not commonly occur with any one pecked motif. When scratched and pecked petroglyph styles overlap scratched petroglyphs are always later than and superimposed over earlier pecked petroglyphs. Data was collected to test three hypotheses concerning the intention of association between scratched and pecked petroglyphs. It does not appear that scratched petroglyphs serve to obliterate earlier pecked petroglyphs or function as a sketch that would be pecked later. There is evidence that some scratched petroglyphs enhance earlier pecked petroglyphs however, this hypothesis cannot sufficiently describe the range of patterns and associations found in the Bennett Hills scratched petroglyph assemblage. Hypotheses suggesting associations between scratched rock art and other archaeological phenomena were also examined. The association between scratched petroglyphs and scratched stones is deserving of further research. It may also be too soon to dismiss the association between scratched petroglyphs and quartz. The examination of scratched petroglyphs in the Bennett Hills provides a unique insight into the minds of the makers of these petroglyphs, contributing valuable data our knowledge of the prehistoric peoples of the Bennett Hills and surrounding areas.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Anthropology

Persistent Identifier